MasterChef recap: Things get spicy as teams are disbanded and a stash of cash up for grabs

Sarah fulfills her lifetime dream of making Indian lobster.
Sarah fulfills her lifetime dream of making Indian lobster. Photo: Network 10

There comes a point in all our lives when we must turn to our best friends and say, "We are now enemies. I will destroy you." For the MasterChef contestants, that point has now come, as the pitiful façade of camaraderie generated by the labels 'fans' and 'favourites' is ruthlessly stripped away and the teams are combined into one heaving, steaming mass of savage, competitive hatred.

From now on it is every cook for himself. Or herself, if any of these cooks are women: I haven't checked.

Arriving in the kitchen, the cooks are informed by Jock that nobody is going home today: instead, whoever is eliminated will be imprisoned in a glass box underground forever.

Just kidding, in fact today's challenge simply doesn't carry elimination, but does carry a tantalising prize: $10,000 cash and an immunity pin, which can be sold for as much as you like on eBay. The contestants are gobsmacked: Keyma dreams of going to the Caribbean and never returning, while Daniel thinks it's be great to own a van.

"You've combined cuisines, now make it delicious!" shouts Melissa, whose contract states she forfeits half her salary if she doesn't shout something meaningless at least once every ten minutes.

The challenge itself: to select two cuisines from eighteen presented on a table, and combine the two into a single dish. For example you could combine Vietnamese and Italian and make a pho pizza. Or you could combine French and Australian and make filet mignon really poorly.

Sarah is excited by the challenge, as she finally gets to combine French and Indian, much as the British colonial armies in North America did in the 18th century. She emphasises her love for both cuisines by flashing back to the happiest time in her life, when she was looking lovingly at liquid in slow motion.

"You've combined cuisines, now make it delicious!" shouts Melissa, whose contract states she forfeits half her salary if she doesn't shout something meaningless at least once every ten minutes. Meanwhile Alvin excitedly states that if he wins the $10,000 he'll buy a new set of glasses: Alvin's glasses are quite expensive because they are made from ambergris.

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Keyma is combining Chinese and Caribbean flavours, as her two greatest loves have always been dumplings and pot. Julie, on the other hand, is combining Indian and Lebanese: she wants to prove to the judges that she's not stuck on dishes she's cooked before, but can also make something really pointless on command.

Twenty minutes in and it's time for Harry to mention how poor she is. She really needs that ten grand, as it will enable her to buy thousands of new vegetables to shove down her housemates' throats. She is combining Chinese and American cuisines in a dessert she calls "nuclear tensions sundae".

Steph has decided to fuse Japanese and Australian cuisines, and so has Mindy. Their dishes are very different, but they have one thing in common: they sound disgusting. Why "Australian" was even on the table is a mystery, as Australian cuisine has always been notable for not existing.

Melissa and Andy visit Sarah to laugh at how predictable she is. Melissa says she admires Sarah's courage in being willing to do things she's entirely comfortable with. Elsewhere, Aldo reveals that today is "all about meeting the brief": quite a change from the usual MasterChef challenges that require contestants to completely ignore instructions. Aldo is desperate to win the cash. "Ten thousand dollars, it's a ticket home to Italy," he says, having been overpaying for air travel all his life. He is combining Japanese and Italian in what is definitely NOT called "The Axis Stew".

Julie reflects on how combining Indian and Lebanese is going outside the obvious, the obvious being to combine Italian and Mexican by crumbling doritos on top of a pizza. She is extremely worried that her dish won't work, which is good news because it means she's in her comfort zone: Julie has never once cooked a dish without worrying that it won't work and if she stopped worrying it would signal something has gone wrong with her brain.

The judges visit Michael who is making a prawn tostada like some kind of insane Frankenstein. Jock challenges him on his defiance of God's Law. Michael doubles down and declares that he is making a coriander mayonnaise. Shocked, Jock retreats, realising he is in the presence of true sadistic madness. He's confident in his dish, but admits, "Looking around the kitchen, there are some really amazing cooks", but the editor cuts him off mid-sentence so we don't hear him say, "who I'm way better than" at the end.

Suddenly, hilarity strikes: Sarah's emulsion has split. What does this mean? Who knows, but Sarah seems to think it's bad. "If I serve the dish without the emulsion it won't work," Sarah says, and for a terrible moment it seems like all is lost until she remembers that actually she can just do it again. Phew! Crisis over!

Meanwhile Mindy has her barramundi in a "paper bath", which is…I…I have no idea what that's about. Jock asks Aldo how his risotto is going. Aldo tells him that his risotto is going to be glossy. Jock agrees that that is definitely a word that is often used on this show.

Back to Julie, who is still wondering what the hell she was thinking. She doesn't know how to make her dish look pretty, a major worry given how shallow she knows the judges are.

With ten minutes to go, Keyma is crossing her fingers that she is finished in time. This betrays her inexperience: cooks who've spent longer in the MasterChef kitchen know that crossing your fingers is a less effective technique than just cooking your dish more quickly.

Time is almost up and Michael is compulsively repeating to himself how "fun" his dish is. Who are you REALLY trying to convince, Michael? Meanwhile Sarah has done her emulsion again and it's fine and there was never really any problem to begin with. Sarah is extremely emotional because she's always wanted to make an Indian lobster before but never had the courage to try it, in case she fell victim to anti-Indian lobster cancel culture. Finally, she feels free to be herself, in the sense that "being herself" means adding certain spices to a lobster. It's incredibly inspirational.

Time is up. The judges unhinge their jaws. They taste Aldo's shiitake mushroom risotto. It doesn't suck. They taste Julie's eggplant biryani with hummus. It also doesn't suck. They taste Mindy's smoked barramundi that is in some way Japanese and Australian. It's OK. They taste Tommy's Vietnamese tacos which are fine, Daniel's tom yum paperbark barrumundi which is basically good, and Billie's weird garamasala dessert which is sort of decent.

Then they taste Harry's American-Chinese apple pie fried milk Szechuan chocolate sundae, which Harry sprays whipped cream onto in the belief this makes it "theatrical". "I think you've hit the brief," says Jock, though he's not at all sure. Melissa says an amazing number of words in a very short space of time, and they move on to Keyma, whose Caribbean bao is good except for the bao bit.

The judges taste dishes from Matt, Alvin, and Steph, all of whom have failed miserably. Then Michael, whose melding of the concepts of "prawns" and "toast" blows everyone's minds. They probably also taste the dishes of Montana and Ali, but if they did I didn't notice.

Sarah steps up with the Indian lobster she's been waiting all her life to make. The judges' response will determine whether her dreams of becoming the world's greatest Indian-French fusion artiste are fulfilled, or if she must be cast down into utter darkness, never to truly find peace. The judges think it's wonderful and Sarah performs a heart-stirring rendition of "I Belong To Me". All around Australia people cry tears of joy as they are reminded that even in this harsh, cynical world, sometimes a woman can still fight against all the odds and cook a spicy lobster. Believe in yourself, and you can do anything.

In the end, the winner is Sarah, surprise surprise.  Everyone is happy knowing that Sarah is now legally allowed to make spicy seafood, and that the $10,000 didn't go to anyone who actually needed it.

Tune in tomorrow when the contestants will recreate the Food Fight scene from Animal House.